10 September 2008

That Pit Bull With Lipstick

When I heard Sarah Palin describe herself as a pit bull with lipstick, I cringed a little. I’m sensitive to the untrue stereotypes lodged against pit bulls. I’m also sensitive when such stereotypes are used in national media. Pit Bull owners and supporters are fighting long and hard against stereotypes and unfounded fears that lead to BSL. At the same time, I try to be reasonable about my response. Palin’s quote did not seem, to me, to be a blatant stereotyping of these dogs. I also don’t think it was a purposefully anti-pit bull statement. Of course, with that in mind, I was left to digest exactly what she meant by her statement. Was she tapping into stereotypes of Pit Bulls, or does she understand the real qualities of these dogs and she was invoking that image, or did she simply not know what she was saying?

First, lets take a look at the stereotypes of Pit Bulls. They’re vicious; it doesn’t matter their breeding or training they’re simply vicious. They have locking jaws; once they bite onto something they physically cannot let go. They turn on you; though they might have been a perfect family pet for years someday they will suddenly, without warning or provocation attack you or a family member. They’re just plain bad dogs and are not to be trusted.

Sarah Palin as a Pit Bull. She’s vicious, and it doesn’t matter how we treat her, she’s simply going to be vicious. It’s not a very good thing to say about yourself, but she might consider it an important quality in a vice president. She has “locking jaws.” Which might lead me to believe that once she makes a decision, or chooses a side in a debate, she will not be convinced to change her mind no matter what. It might also cause me to believe of her that she will not be good at, or even willing to, compromise. That doesn’t sound particularly bi-partisan to me. It doesn’t sound intelligent. It certainly isn’t a quality I would want in any of my representatives. She will turn on us. I wonder how well her handlers will be able to control her. Can I assume that at first she will seem well-behaved, a compliant party member, a vice president more than happy to take her lead from her president. Can I also assume that at some point, without warning or provocation she will turn on them all in a vicious attack. More importantly, if she does turn, will she turn in such a way that she suddenly supports my ideas, or will it simply be an inexplicable attack. Are these the ideas Sarah Palin really meant to suggest with her comment?

Now, lets look at the truths about Pit Bulls. They’re very loyal to their owners and families. They’re persistent and do not give up easily. They’re loving and affectionate and perfectly happy to be lap dogs. They’re also goofy and playful. As far as viciousness goes, they’re no better or worse than any other dog.

Sarah Palin as a Pit Bull. She’s very loyal. This is a good quality, definitely. My only question is to whom will she be loyal? To her state (as she seemed to suggest at one point) to her party, to her president, to her country? In a campaign running with a slogan of Country First, I’d like to think her highest loyalty would be to her country. She’s persistent. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad quality. However, it requires tempering because at some point it is necessary to compromise or back off. She’s loving and affectionate. I certainly hope she shows these qualities to her family and friends, I don’t however need a hug from her. I’d be happy to settle with genuine concern, sympathy, and caring. She’s goofy and playful. While I don’t think goofy and playful is what we need in a vice president, as a mother I hope she knows how to be both. She’s no better or worse than any other vice presidential candidate. I can’t say as I believe that. If I disagree with her policy choices, then she’s worse than other candidates and vice versa. But, that’s not, in and of itself, a bad thing. It we were all the same, politics would be boring. Are these the ideas Sarah Palin intended to suggest by her comment?

Or, did she simply not know what she was saying? Is she unfamiliar with the stereotypes of Pit Bulls in today’s world? If so, then I am very worried about how well informed she is. Was she not thinking about what such a simile means? If so, then I wonder how strong her thinking skills are.

All in all, Sarah Palin’s reference to herself as a Pit Bull did nothing to endear her to me. Quite the opposite, in fact. It is one more thing that causes me to question her ability to be the vice president.

And just to put to bed one more myth about Pit Bulls. They don’t like lipstick, they prefer chapstick.

Lipstick is preferred

check out the 2nd picture

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